Saturday, November 28, 2020

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, her forthcoming epic about women's strength during the Dust Bowl

With this emotionally charged epic of Dust Bowl-era Texas and its dramatic aftermath, the prolific Hannah has added another outstanding novel to her popular repertoire. 

In 1921, Elsa Wolcott is a tall, bookish woman of 25 whose soul is stifled by her superficial parents. By 1934, after marrying Rafe Martinelli, a young Italian Catholic who was the first man to show her affection, Elsa is a mother of two who has found a home on her beloved in-laws’ farm. Severe drought and terrible dust storms affect everyone in this proud family, and they are all forced to make tough choices. 

This wide-ranging saga ticks all the boxes for deeply satisfying historical fiction. Elsa is an achingly real character whose sense of self-worth slowly emerges through trying circumstances, and her shifting relationship with her rebellious daughter, Loreda, is particularly moving. Hannah brings the impact of the environmental devastation on the Great Plains down to a personal level with ample period-appropriate details and reactions, showing how people’s love for their land made them reluctant to leave. 

The storytelling is propulsive, and the contemporary relevance of the novel’s themes—for example, how outsiders are unfairly blamed for economic inequities—provides additional depth in this rich, rewarding read about family ties, perseverance, and women’s friendships and fortitude.

The Four Winds will be published by St. Martin's Press in February 2021. I'd reviewed it from an Edelweiss e-copy for Booklist's 10/15/20 issue.  Hannah's earlier historical novel, The Nightingale, was the historical fiction category winner in the Goodreads Choice awards for 2015 (I haven't read it yet, so no spoilers, please!).  Will you be reading this one, and which among her works is your favorite so far?  Happy to hear your recommendations.


  1. The Nightingale has been my favorite so far with The Great Alone a close second. Looking forward to reading The Four Winds.

  2. I haven't read The Great Alone either and need to get caught up.